Graham Potter, sacked by Chelsea on Sunday, is a victim of a fumbling new ownership regime and the club’s muddled transfer policy.

It’s lazy and simplistic to trot out the usual refrain, “Ultimately, managers are judged on results,” to justify Potter’s sacking.

While it’s a truism that the modern game is a results business, stitching results together is primarily but not solely the responsibility of the manager.

Results on the pitch are a function of many variables, including the culture of the club. It is for this reason that Chelsea’s new owners must not escape scrutiny for their role in Potter’s failure to engineer results commensurate with the much publicized investment in the Blues playing squad.

Yes, results could have been better and Potter will be first to admit as much, but in mitigation he never had the luxury of working with a settled squad to allow him to forge a playing identity. He was always tinkering and forced to fudge formations to accommodate Todd Boehly’s expensive acquisitions, sometimes putting square pegs in round holes.

Boehly’s money-is-no-object transfer policy has Chelsea sitting with an embarrassment of riches, a blessing and a curse for the sacked manager and potentially for his successor too.

Chelsea job a poisoned chalice?

Boehly has axed two managers in a single campaign – one inherited from the previous regime, the other his first managerial appointment as a Chelsea owner.

The axing of Thomas Tuchel, a Champions League winning manager, smacked of opportunistic action taken with indecent haste and the justification for dismissal a smokescreen for a premeditated agenda. From the moment he arrived at Stamford Bridge Boehly has had the appearance of a man determined to put his own stamp on the club by effecting root-and-branch reforms.

Eyebrows were raised when Chelsea’s experienced transfer committee of accomplished deal brokers was disbanded and replaced by one with Boehly at the apex. The (dreadful) results are there for all to see.

Chelsea can’t afford to get the next appointment wrong and risk the Stamford Bridge manager’s job acquiring notoriety as a poisoned chalice, and Boehly a reputation as a brutal trigger-happy owner.

What next for Potter?

As far as auditions for managing a top-four club go, Potter’s stint at Brighton ticked all the boxes. When Brighton beat Manchester United 2-1 in the season opener, so impressive were the Seagulls many pundits opined that the Old Trafford hierarchy should have hired Potter instead of Erik Ten Hag as their new manager.

Potter turned Brighton into a solid outfit who played with the assuredness of a team at home in the Premier League. The size of the compensation – an amount in excess of £21m, Chelsea paid Brighton to prise Potter away from The Amex Stadium – underlined the Englishman’s growing reputation. And Chelsea really pushed the boat out for their man, offering Potter a five-year contract.

Potter’s professional ego is bruised by the Chelsea dismissal, but his reputation is not in tatters. Such is the curious nature of football management that a manager is fired for poor performance today only to be hired by a rival club tomorrow, hailed as the perfect fit for the job.

Potter hasn’t even finished clearing his desk at Chelsea and already he is being linked with the Leicester City vacancy created by the sacking on Brendan Rodgers, who himself is being touted by his admirers as the ideal replacement for Potter at Stamford Bridge. It sounds incestuous, doesn’t it?

Expensive mistakes

Chelsea reportedly paid Tuchel £13m in severance pay. The German wasn’t good enough for Boehly, but good enough for serial winners Bayern Munich.

Potter still had four and a half years left on his contract, so he too will be walking away from Stamford Bridge with a sizeable pay-off. Boehly’s brutal decisions are proving quite expensive.

Whoever will be the next Chelsea manager will inherit a bloated squad of expensive stars, but they won’t be his players. That is already a problem for the incoming manager. Having  already spent  £550m on new players Boehly could be forced to make more forays into the transfer market for new signings in the new manager’s image, players who will fit into his philosophy.

As Chelsea search for a new manager the spotlight will be firmly trained on the owners, who must shoulder some of the responsibility for a wretched campaign.

In the space of seven months Todd Boehly has sacked two managers for specks in their eyes. Maybe it’s time for the Chelsea owner to deal with the log in his eye.


I'm Barrie Jarrett, born in Leeds, lived over a decade in South Africa, CEO And Co Founder of Planet Sport Limited and Planet Bet Limited.

Write A Comment